Everyone, this is my Mum. Mum will be 87 in March and she lives in care because she has dementia.
I don’t know if she still really knows me as every time I visit her, I announce, “Hello Mum, Flamingo Dancer has come to visit you”. I then reinforce the Mum, Daughter, Flamingo Dancer relationship several times in the next few sentences. She seems comfortable with me, so I assume she knows me. I don’t really want to know if she doesn’t; not yet. It hurt too much when my Dad no longer knew me in his last years…
She was looking particularly elegant today. The nurses are very caring, and always put a matching necklace with each outfit. Often they polish her nails as well! We joke that she dresses better now that when she had all her faculties, for Mum was known to have no colour sense at all!
While taking the photos, quick shots with my phone, I realised that Mum no longer knows how to smile. Mum was always quick with a witty line or comeback (never equal to me, but still good), but that ability has long gone. I don’t know when her ability to smile slipped away, but the realisation that it had, has made me so profoundly sad.
Smiling is one of our first forms of communication. How we all wait for the baby’s first smile! Petite Fille greets everyone with a smile. Her laughter is so beautiful. Now old age has robbed Mum of that.
Still, we have some delightful conversations. This visit, we discussed the problem of the chickens who come in and make a mess all over her floor. There are no chickens, her room is spotless. She also told me that the tips of her toes had been cut off. I inspected her feet, and no injuries so I assume that the podiatrist had been!
It is impossible to have a “normal” conversation with Mum most days, so if she tells me there are pink rabbits in her room, or chickens, then that is what we will discuss. We have lots of discussions about the bird ornaments in her room, which she often thinks are live birds, and also about the artificial flowers in the room as well. This visit we had several conversations about the lovely artificial blue hydrangea tied with a ribbon to the handle of her walking frame. She offered me a cutting, but I said I already had one!
Sadness is always my companion as I leave my Mum, but I remind myself that she is safe, well cared for, and appears in a contented state of mind despite her dementia, so I just have to accept life as it is, and treasure the memories for both of us.